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Volkswagen Group counts cost of WLTP changeover
Skoda Superb 140TDI becomes latest victim of strict WLTP homologation process
31 Aug 2018
VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia (VGA) has again been stung by the strict homologation process for the imminent Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) regulation, with the 140TDI grade quietly discontinued from the Skoda Superb range – for the time being.
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the Volkswagen Polo GTI and Beats national media launch in northern NSW, VGA public relations and brand experience manager Kurt McGuiness confirmed the 140TDI’s exit but was optimistic it would return soon.
“Ultimately it’s more about us making the decision to go with our volume cars for when we have to do a homologation, but we do fully intend to have that car back later – when we can,” he said.
“Petrol versus diesel (sales share) is never typically high. That’s the reason why we’ve kept the petrol engines running.
“For that car … the (diesel share) wasn’t insignificant. Typically, (with) those cars, you’ve got a 162TSI and a 206TSI – they’re the popular engines of that range.”
As such, the Superb 140TDI joins the Octavia RS 135TDI and 169TSI as exiting Skoda models, while the Golf 110TDI, GTI 169TSI and Alltrack 135TDI; Tiguan 110TSI and Passat 140TDI have departed under the Volkswagen banner.
Manual gearboxes have also been impacted by WLTP, with self-shifting versions of Skoda’s Karoq 110TSI and Octavia RS245 and Volkswagen’s Golf GTI and R making way as part of VGA’s model rationalisation.
However, these recently-axed VGA models could also re-enter showrooms at a later date, with Mr McGuiness explaining that higher-volume products had to be prioritised in the short term.
“This testing was going to happen,” he said. “The way that WLTP works is that there is from every single conceivable change to a variant – right down to wheels, sunroofs and everything – you have to retest, you have to do new homologation.
“Being a smaller market in the grand scheme of things, and the fact that our fuel quality is pretty terrible, we have to ask for priority homologation for the models that we need to sell in bulk. We have to go with the cars that people buy.”
Mr McGuiness confirmed that Australian-only limited-run variants, such as the just-confirmed Golf R Special Edition, would also be subject to WLTP, despite the regulations being exclusively rolled out in Europe from September 1, but he did not expect VGA’s enthusiasm for such products to be impacted.
“Ultimately, it’ll just come down to equipment and things like that,” he said. “It depends on where it comes in the life cycle.
“There has to be a drop-dead time for testing of these things, and that’s already underway. What that means is there’s a backlog of cars that need to be tested and homologated within Europe, then it will come back online.”
Volkswagen and Skoda are not the only marques to be affected by WLTP in Australia, with sister brand Audi recently suspending sales of its RS3 sedan and hatchback, while BMW will soon discontinue its current-generation M3 sedan.
The Superb 140TDI – a mechanical cousin to the aforementioned Passat 140TDI – was offered in four-door sedan and five-door wagon body styles, priced from $44,690 and $46,390 before on-road costs respectively.
Sales of the Superb have taken a hit this year, with 549 examples sold to the end of July – an 11.0 per cent decrease over the 617 deliveries made during the same period last year.
As a result, the Superb is currently placed third in the sub-$70,000 large-car segment, trailing the Holden Commodore (5941 units) and Kia Stinger (1258).
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